“Coming Out” As A Migraine Sufferer (and why we don’t)

You have migraine? Sssshhhh… don’t tell anyone!

Has anyone ever given you that advice? Well, whether they have or not, chances are good that you’ve been reluctant, at one time or another, to admit that you have migraine.

Wendy Thomas, Chief Executive of The Migraine Trust, tells her story of moving to a small village about 15 years ago. Because of her interest in migraine, she eventually found out that there were six people in the village who suffered from migraine attacks.

But guess what? Not one of them knew that any of the others had migraine!

Closed mouthWhy don’t we talk about it? Here are some possible reasons – feel free to add your own.

  • Superstition: If I talk about it, or even think about it, I might get migraine (or have an attack). If you think that you’re likely to change your physiology and genetics sufficiently just by mentioning to someone that you have migraine disease, or by discussing it with someone, you might also be worried about getting cancer by giving to cancer research.
  • Bad Memories: Some people don’t want to think about it or talk about it because the memory is painful. Why not be free of migraine when you’re not actually having an attack? Live a “normal” life instead of thinking about the disease?
  • Fear of disbelief: Some people are afraid (with reason, I’m afraid) that people won’t really believe them – that is, they’ll write off migraine as negative thinking or work avoidance, or “just a headache” (as if a headache is nothing!).
  • Fear of loss: Loss of a job, loss of friends, loss of opportunities. Will someone think that I can’t be trusted, because I have migraine? That I can’t get the job done? Even if it’s not true, the perception may be there.

These are not all reasons that are easily overcome. And yet, if no one talks about it, the results may be even more negative. Consider:

  • If no one wants to think about migraine between attacks, no one will want to give to migraine research. (Hey, consider giving a small amount right now – USA residents, UK residents, Other)
  • If no one talks about migraine, there will be no progress/research. Not just worldwide research, but even understanding your own condition better, and finding better treatments. While you’re in agony may not be the best time to find better solutions.
  • Talking to your doctor. Guess what? A lot of people will self-medicate for years before ever finding good treatments. Talk to a doctor who knows your medical history. Go to a specialist. Stop putting it off. Make an appointment today.
  • Feeling alone? Of course, because no one wants to talk about it. No, don’t dwell on it and obsess about it. But it’s a part of your life – be open about it and share, especially with others who are suffering or who have loves ones who are suffering.
  • Improving the lives of those around us is important. How many other people at your place of work may have migraine, or may in the future? At your school? Place of worship? It may be that you can recommend small improvements that will make life better for someone else.

Listen, this isn’t about selfishly making sure everyone knows how miserable you are. This is about everyone helping everyone.

Are you afraid to talk about migraine? Maybe you’re not ready to shout it out to the world. But maybe you can make a small difference today by talking to a family member, or your doctor. Make a small donation. If nothing else, leave a comment here or on Facebook.

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2 comments… add one
  • Joanne Stride Jun 27, 2016

    I’ve always been very open about my chronic migraines but I do admit that I have encountered everything described in this article. Most people(that don’t have migraines) either suggest that I bring them on by talking about them(by negative thinking) or suggest cures etc. I continue to discuss my condition in hopes that people will truly understand the debilitating nature of migraines. What truly saddens me is when my doctors don’t take my condition seriously.

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